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Saturday, December 13, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Sale of 300-acre Love Israel family spread OK'd

By Peyton Whitely
Times Snohomish County bureau

Love Israel
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A federal bankruptcy judge in Seattle yesterday approved the sale of 300 acres owned by the Love Israel family near Arlington, signaling the likely move of the community before the end of next month.

The approval by Judge Karen Overstreet marks the most recent development in the 33-year history of the Love Israel family, which once operated as a communal group on Seattle's Queen Anne Hill but moved to a site about seven miles southeast of Arlington in 1984 after internal disputes threatened its existence.

Since then, members of the family have become ingrained in the community, and each summer, the family hosted a Garlic and Music Festival that drew several thousand people.

Overstreet's order called for the closing of the $3.3 million sale to the Union for Reform Judaism by Thursday, with a provision that the property could be sold at foreclosure the following day if the sale doesn't close. "This is wonderful news," said Rabbi David Fine, regional director for the union, a national organization with a membership of some 900 Jewish congregations.

Fine said the union, formerly known as the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, had sought property for a campground in the Seattle area for about two years.

Those in the courtroom yesterday expected the sale to close as planned.

"What I've heard, your honor, is this is a done deal," said Kevin Hanchett, an attorney representing the two major creditors for Golden Triangle Development Inc., the business name of the Love Israel family.

Love Israel, the group's founder, and Golden Triangle filed for bankruptcy in February. Serious Israel, a spokesman for the family, last week said various maneuvers had allowed holding off sale of the property, and he expressed hope that Snohomish County would approve an "eco-village" development at the site. That approval did not materialize, however, leading to yesterday's court order.

Serious Israel yesterday declined comment on the judge's order.

Hanchett said the approximately 40 members of the Love Israel family living at the property likely would have 45 days from the closing date to leave the premises. Serious Israel said last week that neither he nor other family members know where they might move. He expressed an interest in visiting other eco-village developments in Europe.

With proceeds from the $3.3 million sale, the Israel family's two major creditors, Asia Europe Americas Bank and Frontier Bank, would be paid some $3.2 million, said Hanchett. In its original bankruptcy filings, the Love Israel family cited debts of $5.2 million and estimated it had $3.2 million in assets.

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Serious Israel has said some money may be left for the family to start over, but he didn't say how much.

Some conditions have to be met to close the sale, including resolving a minor title dispute and having one creditor agree to relinquish an $80,000 claim, but it's expected such issues will be settled before the Thursday closing deadline, Hanchett said.

Peyton Whitely: 206-464-2259 or pwhitely@seattletimes.com

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